Training with power can be a very effective way to customize your workouts. But how do you know if you're doing it right? You've purchased the equipment and subscribed to the tracking websites—but how do you know if the numbers you're seeing mean that you're getting faster and more powerful?
Follow these four steps to find out how to accurately measure your progress with a power meter.
Step 1: Conduct a Field Test
A field test is the quickest way to evaluate your current fitness level and obtain baseline numbers to use to set up your training zones. The field test should be conducted after an easy day of riding or after completing a good warm up.
There are several methods of field tests that can be done. You may want to do more than one test to make sure that your recorded numbers are giving you similar results. For all of these field tests, the terrain on which the test is conducted is critical to the accuracy and validity of the results. Look for a flat to slightly uphill course, no stop signs and not extremely twisty. The test can be done on a trainer, as long as the resistance can be adjusted to create enough load to make it a true time trial effort. Below are the three most popular:
- Test #1: 30-minute time trial
- Test #2: 20-minute time trial
- Test #3: 2 sets of 8-minute time trial efforts separated by a 15-minute recovery
During these tests you'll want to record, at a minimum, heart rate and power. Other useful measurements to record include:
- Temperature at time of test
When recording the weather conditions during testing, try as accurately as possible to note the temperature, humidity and wind.
Step 2: Analyze the Numbers
Once you've conducted your field test, you'll need to analyze the numbers. For the 30-minute test, you'll take the average Heart Rate (HR) for the last 20 minutes. This will become your Lactic Threshold Heart Rate (LTHR). Your average power for the entire 30 minutes will become your Threshold Power (TP).